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A STORY ABOUT A REAL MAN                                                                        S3
lieutenant, called Lenochka, or "sister of medical science",
as she, to her own undoing, had introduced herself to her
superior, always singing and laughing Lenochka, who
was in love with all the lieutenants at the same time,
firmly pushed the excited airman away from the bed and
said sternly:
"Comrade Captain, leave the patient alone!'1
Throwing on to the table the bunch of flowers, for which
the day before someone had fkrwn to the regional centre,
and which were now absolutely superfluous, she unfas-
tened the canvas Red Cross satchel and, in a business-like
manner, proceeded to examine the sick man. She
deftly tapped his legs with her stubby fingers and asked
"Does it hurt? Here? And here?"
Alexei had a good look at his legs for the first time.
The feet were terribly swollen and almost black. The
slightest touch caused a pain to shoot through his whole
body like an electric shock. The look of the tips of the
toes worried Lenochka most. They had turned quite black
and were insensitive to all feeling.
Grandad Mikhail and Degtyarenko sat down at the
table. Surreptitiously taking a pull at the airman's flask
to celebrate the occasion, they engaged in an animated
conversation. In his cracked, high-pitched voice, Grandad
Mikhail began evidently not for the first time to tell how
Alexei was found.
"Well, our youngsters found him in the clearing. The
Germans had felled logs for their dugouts, and the boys'
mother, my daughter, that is, sent them there for chips.
That's how they found him. 'Aha! What's that funny thing
over there?' At first they thought it was a wounded bear
rolling over and over and took to their heels at once. But
curiosity got the better of them and they went back.
'What kind of a bear is it? Why is it rolling? There's
something funny about this!" They went back and saw
this thing rolling over and over groaning."
"What do you mean 'rolling1?" inquired Degtyarenko
doubtfully, offering Grandad his cigarette case. "Do you
Grandad took a cigarette from the case, drew a folded
piece of newspaper from his pocket, tore off a strip,